New Ramsgate centenarian marks her 100th birthday

Celebration: Peggy McKinley celebrated her 100th birthday on September 11. Pictures: Supplied
Celebration: Peggy McKinley celebrated her 100th birthday on September 11. Pictures: Supplied

Lockdown didn't put a dampener on a big celebration in Ramsgate this month, when Peggy McKinley notched up her 100th birthday.

The new centenarian received plenty of colourful flowers to brighten the affair on Saturday, September 11, which marked her second birthday while in COVID-induced lockdown.

Daughter Jill Rowley said her mother's family and friends were able to be a part of the celebration with a special virtual patry.

"Peggy is truly the matriarch of the family, as was demonstrated at her TV 'Zoom' gathering of all her extended family," Ms Rowley said.

"[Mum] has been a friend to may and she is still my inspiration and best friend."

Peggy was born in Lidcombe in 1921, the first child of Vera and Harold Mullett. Harold disappeared two years later, shortly before Peggy's brother Jim was born in 1923, and was not seen again until Ms Rowley tracked him down in 1995, aged 98.

"Seventy-two years passed with no trace of Harold's existence," she said.

"I started a determined search for Peg's missing dad, using Ancestry.com and the Mormon Church's extensive records, and we finally found Harold, who had been living in a nursing home in Bateau Bay.

"All that time he was just a short trip up the expressway away from us.

"We had a wonderful reunion with him - the family who he hadn't had any contact with through the 72 years since his disappearance."

100 years young: Peggy McKinley.

100 years young: Peggy McKinley.

Ms Rowley said her grandfather's memory was still sharp, and he filled them in on the mystery of his departure.

A mechanical saw incident saw Harold lose four fingers on his hand, requiring him to make a move and change jobs. He headed to his parents' poultry farm in Tamworth, but his family didn't follow.

Through their reunion Harold and Peggy learned they shared many hobbies and interests: bushwalking, bird-watching and law bowling.

Peggy McKinley in the 1940s with her grandparents Ada and James Goddard.

Peggy McKinley in the 1940s with her grandparents Ada and James Goddard.

Ms Rowley said Peggy started her working life at age 14, as a "live-in 'mother's helper', looking after 12-month old twins". She later worked at Woolworths, and then became a buyer for Anthony Hordern and Sons department store on Sydney's George Street, and eventually owned and managed a baby and schoolwear shop in St Ives for six years.

Peggy welcomed eldest child Howard with her first husband, Vic Piper, before marrying Allen McKinley and welcoming Ms Rowley. Allen, who sadly passed in 1972, already had 15-year-old daughter Laurel when the pair married and became a family.

"Peggy has had a fulfilling life in recent years, playing golf while at St Ives, then changing to lawn bowls when she moved to Connells Point," Ms Rowley said. "Firstly at the bowling club at Kyle Bay, and then, when she moved to Ramsgate in 2005, she joined the Ramsgate RSL Bowling Club, where she was a champ.

"She coached many new bowlers who became winning bowlers too, and made many wonderful friends in the bowling circles."

Peggy's birthday was celebrated by her son, daughter and step-daughter, her three grandsons and four step-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren and her step-great-great-grandson.